European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday announced Emanuele Giaufret as the organization’s new choice for ambassador to Israel.
Giaufret, who was posted in Israel in the past, currently serves as head of the Division for Democracy and Electoral Observation within the EU’s external action branch.
An Italian diplomat, Giaufret is to replace Lars Faaborg-Andersen, whose term ends in the summer.
Previously, Giaufret served at the European Commission Delegation to the UN in New York as counselor in charge of human rights and social affairs. Before that, he headed the Political and Trade Section at the EU embassy in Tel Aviv.
Giaufret holds a PhD in the history of international relations from the University of Florence.
Faaborg-Andersen, a Danish diplomat, has represented the union in Israel since 2013.
The EU is by far Israel’s largest trading partner. But political relations have been frosty in recent years, with Israeli officials accusing the union of a pro-Palestinian bias and an obsession with the Middle East peace process. Jerusalem was especially livid over the EU’s 2015 decision to enforce a special labeling system for Israeli goods produced outside the 1967 lines.
On Wednesday, Carlos Moedas, the EU high commissioner for research, science and innovation, visited Israel, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials to discuss Israel’s participation in Horizon 2020, a European research and innovation funding program.
“EU-Israel cooperation in technology and innovation has never been stronger,” Faaborg-Andersen said. “Israel benefits greatly from the Horizon 2020 program, not only the researchers, companies and universities which participate, but also Israeli people from the products and services which they develop and design using this funding. This is the real backbone of the start-up nation.”